Maca is a root vegetable that has been cultivated in the Peruvian Andes for over 2,600 years. Growing at about 10,000 feet above sea level, it is the highest altitude crop in the world.
Ancient cultures and especially the Incans considered maca a super food that improves energy, stamina and libido. Today, it usually grabs headlines for its aphrodisiac qualities and its reputation as a natural Viagra.
Maca beats stress...
Maca is a menopause super food because it is a powerful adaptogen, that is, a nutritive substance that counters adverse sources of stress and allows the body to adapt naturally to stressful conditions. Adaptogens also help improve the body’s natural balance or homeostasis. Maca has been recommended for everything from impotence and infertility to depression, hot flashes, stress and memory loss. It works its magic by stimulating the hypothalamus and pituitary glands which in turn regulate the other glands in the body and can bring balance to the adrenal, thyroid, pancreas and ovarian glands.
Typically dried and powdered, maca is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sulfur, sodium and iron as well as vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), C and E. It also contains zinc, iodine, copper, manganese and silicon. Compared to the potato which also originated in the Andes, maca contains five times more protein and four times more fiber.
Maca has a butterscotch scent but a slightly funky turnip flavor that can be a little strong for some people. Don't let that stop you. You can take 1 or 2 tablespoons per day, and even more if you like, because studies have shown no toxicity or pharmacological effects. You can add it to smoothies, salad dressings, soups, broth, tea or coffee.
Make sure you get the organic, raw and dried, powdered root. Some great brands are Navitas & The Maca Team. You can find it at health food stores, Whole Foods or at Amazon.com.